Pauper's oath

A pauper's oath is a sworn statement or oath by a person that he or she is completely destitute or a pauper, i.e. without any money or property.

A person without the ability to pay court costs has the option to swear a pauper's oath in order to file a lawsuit without paying filing fees. Prisoners filing legal actions often use a pauper's oath because persons in prison are often completely without money or any means of acquiring any.

Historically, especially during the Great Depression, the pauper's oath was required as a prerequisite for receiving welfare or other forms of government relief in the United States.

One pauper's oath used when establishing indigent status under United States Federal law is as follows:

I do solemnly swear that I have not any property, real or personal, exceeding $20, except such as is by law exempt from being taken on civil process for debt; and that I have no property in any way conveyed or concealed, or in any way disposed of, for my future use or benefit. So help me God.

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